The Global Investors Meet 2012 shows that land availability has to be kept in mind while framing policies and signing MoUs for the industrial development of Karnataka. A look by K. Sukumaran

A critical analysis of the gains from the just concluded Karnataka Global Investors Meet 2012 reveals that the role of land in industrial development in the State is pitted high. The estimated land-needs for the various projects for which MoUs have been signed is stated to be of the order of 1,20,000 acres. It has also been reported that the State Government has already a land bank of 46,000 acres and preliminary notification has been issued for another 40,000 acres. What is the feasibility of providing the required land in the backdrop of land acquisition controversies and the impending Central legislation? Will it be feasible to industrialise without jeopardising the agricultural sector and the ecological balance?

Land, labour and capital are the fundamental requirements of industrialisation. There have been conflicts for various reasons and in particular, over the human attraction of securing rights over land which can be used for diverse purposes. Many promoters these days seek overestimated extent of land, that too in continuous stretches. This brings to the fore conflicts with the farming community whose fundamental avocation is tilling the land and when they lose the land there will be agitations against land acquisitions.

The Nandikur episode and the shifting of Tata's ‘Nano' car project from West Bengal to Gujarat are still fresh in our memory. The farmers' demonstrations against the GIM in Bangalore need to be recognised as an issue to be taken care of.

Direct impact

Most of the investment proposals have come from power generation companies such as GVK Energy Ltd., Surana Power Ltd., Mytra Energy (India) Ltd., Flamingo Power Pvt. Ltd., Suzlon, Udupi Power Corporation and similar entities, which requires more land, possibly away from the areas of human habitation.

Steel companies including Tata Steel and Kalyani Steel are into taking vast areas of land.

Proposals pertaining to construction by Ramky Group, Embassy Group and other infrastructure development companies too will need vast stretches of land. IT and electronics comes to as low as six per cent of sector-wise investments proposed, which occupy less land. It could be argued that the energy, steel and other industries will be located in various parts of the State and the pressure on land needs will be distributed).

Indirect impact

Tourism occupies a fair amount of investment plans, which will have indirect impact on land, by way of upgradation of roads, tourist accommodation etc.

Residential accommodation for the employees who will require to work in the large and medium industries need to be built, and this too will require some land which will have to be earmarked.

Considering the fact that land availability is not unlimited, industrial development plans may have to be based on limitations on land and maximum returns, both in turnover and job generation. Further, in order to avoid sectoral imbalances, land use policy needs to be laid down before embarking on massive commitment of land for investing in industries.

Balancing act

The KUM (Karnataka Udyog Mitra) may have to establish close liaison with other departments dealing with land acquisition. A separate coordinating body under the Planning Department may be a feasible thought.